Making harvesting plans before you plant is a great idea. You’ll avoid disappointment because you didn’t plant enough, and at the other end of the scale, you won’t be overwhelmed with a huge glut of produce that you can’t use.
For a general answer to your question – How many beans should you plant for a family of 4? – I would advise 20 – 25 pole beans (climbing beans) as a very rough estimate.
The actual number of bean plants that’s right for your particular family will depend on a number of factors.
Let’s go over the most important points you need to take into account, so you can plant the right number of beans.
How Many Servings Of Fresh Beans Do You Want Each Week?
Figuring out your fresh bean consumption is the starting point for planning your bean harvest.
A family of 4 eating beans twice a week will need fewer plants than a family eating beans 7 days a week.
Do You Plan To Freeze Any Beans?
Because green beans are a summer crop, if you want to eat home grown beans at other times of the year, you’ll need to freeze some.
Of course, the amount you can freeze depends on how much freezer space you can set aside for your beans.
Do You Want To Grow Bush Beans or Pole Beans?
Bush beans are easier to grow, because you don’t need to support them, and the plants aren’t susceptible to high winds. Strong winds can absolutely wreck a row of pole beans.
If you only have a modest growing space, you can grow bush beans without the risk of overshadowing the other crops that you’re trying to grow.
Whereas, if you put a couple of rows of pole beans into a small garden, they could (depending on where you site them) put many of your other plants in the shade.
It’s something to keep in mind.
Bush beans do have some downsides.
Because they crop over a 2 to 3 week period, you’ll need to succession plant every couple of weeks over the growing season, so that you’ve always got a new batch of plants ready to harvest as the older ones finish.
And because bush beans only grow a couple of feet tall, you have to bend down low to pick them.
Pole beans produce over the entire season as long as you pick them regularly to encourage new bean production. So the plants that you start in May will still give you beans in September (weather permitting).
They do need supporting though, because they’ll grow 7 feet tall or even higher for some varieties.
But if you’ve got the space, pole beans are a better choice. And there’s less bending down to pick them.
Detail – How Many Pole Beans Should You Plant For A Family Of 4?
A 10 foot row of pole beans, grown in favorable conditions, should be enough to give a family of 4, two meals per week during the growing season.
That works out at one 5 foot row per meal.
If you wanted to eat green beans every day, your total row length would be 35 feet.
Of course, you could plant shorter rows to fit into your space, (and you would have some shading issues) but the overall length would need to be 35 feet.
So, for example, you could plant four 9 foot rows.
Pole bean spacing is 4 – 6 inches (10 – 15 cm) between plants and at least 14 inches (35 cm) between rows.
For a 10 foot row that means planting about 20 beans.
For two meals per week for a family of 4, you would need 20 plants.
Bear in mind that this figure is based on good growing conditions for your plants – fertile soil, adequate watering and feeding, and favorable weather conditions.
The variety of pole beans you choose will also affect your total harvest. Some varieties are much heavier producers than others, and some varieties will start to give you mature beans to pick earlier than other kinds.
Your beans will produce about 60 days after planting, so you should be able to harvest through July and August without any problems. If your climate is mild, you can still pick beans in September, and in good years you can even pick green beans in early October.
As long as you take good care of your beans, and pick regularly, you’ll have harvests for at least 8 weeks.
From the 20 plants in a ten foot row, you should get at a minimum, enough beans for 16 meals.
If you want some extra green beans to freeze, so you can still enjoy your pole beans after the summer has ended, plant another ten foot row.
Now you’ll have enough green beans to freeze and eat for 8 weeks after summer is over.
How Many Bush Beans Do You Need For A Family Of 4?
For fresh beans, plant 2 – 4 bush beans each week, starting in May.
Beans take 60 days to mature for harvesting, so you’ll be able to start picking beans at the end of June.
In most areas you can succession plant through May, June, and July, and you’ll get your last harvest from July sowings in September.
If you want to harvest beans for freezing or canning, then bush beans are a great choice because they’re ready all at once.
With bush beans you can pick, prep, and pack all of your beans in one big batch, instead of repeating the process every week.
Decide how many weeks you want to eat frozen/canned beans for, and plant the 2-4 bean plants for each of those weeks all at the same time.
Do Green Beans Regrow After Picking?
Pole beans (climbing beans) continue to produce new pods after each harvest throughout the growing season.
Bush beans produce all of their beans over a 2 to 3 week period, then stop.
When you harvest your pole beans, you need to be thorough and really search through the foliage.
If you miss any beans – and that’s easy to do if the beans are green – the plant will mature the tiny beans inside those pods into full-size beans, and at that point it will have fulfilled it’s purpose and will reduce or stop further production of new beans.
Any young pods already on the plant will continue to grow though.
One way to make picking the beans easier, is to choose a purple or yellow skinned variety.
Good To Know
What Bugs Eat Green Beans?
The main bean plant pests are aphids and Mexican bean Beetles.
How Do You Keep Bugs Off Bean Plants Naturally?
For aphids, dilute a few drops of dish soap in water, and spray over the affected plants.
For bean beetles, use a neem oil spray formulated for plants. Spray the leaves lightly, you don’t need to use a lot.
Neem oil disrupts the insects’ nervous system, and they quickly stop eating and die.
Don’t spray beans with neem oil when they have pods growing, because you could impair the flavor.
And That’s A Wrap
Now that you know how many beans you should plant for a family of 4, you can choose you seed and get ready to plant.
Good luck with your garden, I hope your plants give you a ton of beans!